By Teacher Claudia
Dear readers, I finished our last tip with a song which blends Portuguese and English (Brazil: To Tell or Not to Tell
). Well, that will be the start of today’s tip.

Many times foreigners live rather awkward situations because they can’t perceive how much English there is around Brazilians, and how much Brazilians associate English to social status.

Want some evidence? Look at our billboards, read our advertisements, watch some tv, listen to the music played here, walk around. It’s just amazing!

Last weekend I was at an Immersion Course in Belo Horizonte, MG, and learned the term “queca” (pronounced keka), standing for cake, a word brought by the English when they came to Brazil, in order to build the first railways.

Mineiros also say “Uai” (plain why) representing surprise or disbelief because they would hear the English engineers mentioned above asking “Why” all the time, so it was a question of time before they adopted the term.

In the northeast of Brazil there’s “forró”, probably due to the open, “For all” parties Americans held while living in the region during the Second World War.

In the countryside of São Paulo in the area surrounding Campinas there’s the unmistakable American accent, due to the American Immigration after the Civil War.

Here in São Paulo there’s a wealth of Xs in our bakeries, bars and snack bars. In fact, a student of mine has had a wonderful experience on that. He was at a padaria thinking of ordering a cheeseburger, but could only see hamburger written on the wall menu. After that, there were many Xs; x-burger, x-salada, x-bacon. He wondered what that meant, and read it again, still looking for “cheese”. Dear Robert, you didn’t find it because it was there all the time, simply misspelled and mispronounced, the way Brazilians would say it!

My students like to discuss several aspects of language and culture, and I often learn more than teach from their remarks.

On differences and similarities, I dare recommend a Brazilian movie, “Cinema, aspirinas e urubus”. It’s the story of two men, a Brazilian and a German, who against all odds do become friends. Try to see it, dear students, and think about how far, yet so near we all are.

Teacher Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at

To read previous articles by Teacher Claudia click below:

Brazil: To Tell or Not to Tell
Brazil: Ipiranga Museum
Portuguese Tip: Odd words
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
A Brazilian Holiday: October 12th
Portuguese Tip: Sounds
Portuguese Tip: Verb Tenses
Portuguese Tip: The Mystery of Seu, Sua
Portuguese Tip: Interjections and Expressions
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 2
A Brazilian custom: Kissing the Cheek
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Past
Portuguese Tips: Plurals – Part 1
Portuguese Tips: Regular Verbs – Simple Present
Portuguese Tips
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

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